Robot-and-Bird-03_small-779473Guiding Question:   What resource is available to assist with managing multiple social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.; and multiple accounts within each)?  On a related note, what are the best practices for utilizing social media tools in the classroom? 

It’s become apparent that I need a better system for managing multiple social media accounts, a social media dashboard. I have multiple Twitter accounts (personal, professional, school, district library team) not to mention Facebook, Google+ and more). I would love the ability to post messages from more than one account at once and also to quickly switch between the various accounts. I’ve already stopped myself from posting the right thing from the wrong account more than once, and my hope was to find a one-size-fits-all approach (and a free one, at that!). My hope was for a Windows and/or Chrome-based application, as I will primarily be posting from school computers under the direction of our district’s communication office (in a recent social media training session they highlighted the legal implications of using personally-owned devices for district business).

Resources:

HootSuite: https://hootsuite.com/
hootsuite1Tweeten for Twitter: http://mspoweruser.com/tweeten-updated-with-slimmer-columns-more/
tweeten1TweetDeck: https://tweetdeck.twitter.com
tweetdeck1

All of these resources similar in functionality and are classified as social media dashboards. There are numerous tools available in this genre of apps, many of them start-ups trying to fill this growing market niche. Google searches are frustratingly unrewarding as information becomes outdated almost as soon as it’s posted. The resources that I listed all allow for managing multiple Twitter feeds (other offerings such as Buffer https://buffer.com/pricing seemed great but were limited to one account per social media platform). They all allow for scheduling posts, for posting from multiple accounts at once, and for tracking multiple account feeds simultaneously.

Issues/Concerns:

* all of the tools require providing account log-in information to an outside entity
* the free account plans are limited in their scope: HootSuite allows for three social media accounts (including multiple Twitter accounts) and their feeds; SocialPilot allows for three accounts but no feeds; TweetDeck allows for unlimited accounts, but Twitter-only; Tweeten is the same as it’s basically a more polished interface for TweetDeck.
* none of the social media tools I could find provide support for Google+ accounts as Google has not opened up API (application program interface) access for outside apps
* Twitter is very much still in development, and accesses are frequently changed. TweetDeck once provided access to Facebook accounts (as well as Google Buzz, LinkedIn, FourSquare), but is now Twitter only. Twitter purchased TweetDeck in 2011. On 4/16/16 Twitter discontinued support for the Windows-based standalone version of TweetDeck. Subsequent reviews on TweetDeck’s Chrome App (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/tweetdeck-by-twitter/hbdpomandigafcibbmofojjchbcdagbl?hl=en-US) have been scathing in their feedback
* many of the tools are overwhelming in their feature sets– they’re created for folks who rely on social media for the success of their business. I’m not ready for analytics — I’m just trying not to tweet out posts from my work accounts!

I really struggled in my search for a complete tool with the features I was hoping for. Change is constant. Just when folks settle in with an app, permissions are revoked, features are added or removed. I’m moving forward with Tweeten (http://www.wpxbox.com/review-tweeten-windows-10/ and https://chromebuzz.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/tweeten-beta-review/) with HootSuite as an alternative, as I’m going to focus on finding a rhythm and routine for posting on Twitter only before adding Facebook and other social media accounts for my library classroom or school. Tweeten is in Beta form, is available cross-platform, and seems to be the approach that many users are taking following the end of support for TweetDeck’s Windows-based version.

Best practices/additional information on Twitter:

Guide to Twitter for educators:  http://www.nysecta.org/Twitter%20for%20Educators%20-%20A%20Beginner’s%20Guide.pdf
The Ultimate Guide for Twitter for Schools from Campus Suite: https://www.dropbox.com/s/fdf75v3rr36wsnd/Ultimate%20Guide%20for%20Twitter%20for%20Schools.pdf?dl=0
Twitter overload by Kathy Schrock: http://www.schrockguide.net/twitter-for-teachers.html